President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Entrepreneurs across the country have decried the Federal Government’s suspension of the microblogging site, Twitter, in Nigeria, saying that their businesses are already on the line and they may go bankrupt soon.

The ban means that entrepreneurs who utilize the platform to advertise their businesses to old and prospective customers would have to stop and look for alternatives.

But for all of the entrepreneurs who spoke exclusively to the media no other platform could give them the leverage Twitter does.

‘My education is on the line’

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Elijah Peter is a postgraduate student of one the foremost universities in the country. He told the media that his online footwear store, primarily on Twitter with the name ‘Shoe Locker’ serves as the primary means of livelihood for him. From the proceeds, he sponsors his education, too “Twitter has been my major link to customers for over three years now. It has connected me to more customers than WhatsApp and Facebook combined. Honestly, the ban has really affected my business. I can’t really tell how much I’ve lost, but I know it’s really a big setback for me and other small business owners,” Peter said.

Elijah said the ban has restricted his access and those of his customers. Even if he finds a way to successfully gain access, “a lot of people don’t log in anymore”, he said.

My investors will come for me

Aisha Shittu sells bags and shoes on Twitter. She said: “Twitter has a very wide reach and has helped my business to grow massively. Twitter has contributed to 40 per cent of my business growth”.

But the massive growth may be forgotten soon when those she calls her investors who receive returns on a monthly basis come for their monthly returns.

“I am currently destabilised because I have people who invested in my business and I pay them their returns every month. I don’t know what to do now that I can’t make sales on Twitter. I’m afraid of using VPN. Between the day of the ban and now (Monday evening), there’s no way I would not have made more than eight huge sales.

“For example, a day before the ban, a customer reached out to me and we began talking about a very huge purchase. We were still discussing the modalities when the ban came and I can’t access my app and I don’t have her number. It is so annoying and frustrating”, Shittu told Nigerian Tribune.

More money on data

It may not cut so deep for the creative director of Fearless Wears who identified herself simply as Kehinde. While she still has access to some of her longstanding Twitter customers, she now spends more on data and electricity.

“With the ban, I now spend more money on data and my battery drains faster because I use VPN. The impact has really been on extra expenses. With the level of poor power supply in Ibadan, I spend more money to buy fuel, most times to charge my phone because the VPN I’m using drains my battery faster. “If I don’t do this, I’d not be online and expose my business to people. Since the ban, I’ve received less orders than usual because not everyone would have the money to pay for VPN and continue using Twitter, she said.

‘I’m on the verge of losing my source of income’

Omolola Olowu sells phone accessories and utilizes Twitter to advertise her livestock farming business, too. “Sometimes last year, I got a deal to supply 200 branded power banks to a company. It only took a few chats and emails and it was sealed. After that, I got another deal to supply another 50 units. Aside from accessories, I’m a part time livestock farmer. I rear turkeys and I sell them every December, all on twitter. “I am on the verge of losing my source of income. It’s been tough. I remember that night my app stopped working, I felt something hit my chest. I was scared and confused. I’m even scared of using VPN because of a lot of things people are saying. I hope the government reverses this decision.”

For Akinpelu Ayomide, Twitter has been his major market setting for the past two years. “I have sold more products online (Twitter) than offline.

“I utilise the trending hashtags to reach a lot of my customers. But since the ban, this has been difficult. I have not been able to reach my customers and have not received any orders”, he said.

Just like Akinpelu, NM Hermano, a washing machine repairs service provider, has been on Twitter for an upward of two years.

“I have been using Twitter for my service since 2019. It has been incredible, to say the least. It is one huge media to get across to people easily and freely. In my opinion, it is much easier than other social media channels.

“It has helped my business grow and helped me in reaching a whole lot of people I couldn’t have been able to reach. Most of my customers would not have known about my service if not for Twitter.

“The ban has affected me a whole lot. I officially came online today for the first time since the ban. A lot of people can’t reach me again because they are not online and we haven’t been online also.

“It is sad the government is killing small businesses that they can’t provide. I haven’t received orders since the ban. Between Friday and now I have lost between N50,000 and N100,000, the founder of the business, who simply identified himself as Mr Hermano, told the media.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

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